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A Disruptor’s Transformation @TetFund: why Corruption Fights Back

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A Disruptor’s Transformation @TetFund: why Corruption Fights Back

By Adagher Tersoo.

Impacting rapid transformation at every facet of life requires commitment and deliberate effort to ensuring that policies are initiated and executed appropriately, without any bias, incongruity or prejudice.

Especially in government formations where policies driven by core mandates are expected to be greatly achieved, it is therefore very critical that men at the helm of affairs must be resilient, with the needed discipline and experience to forge government initiatives to success.

Although, it is an obvious fact that whenever a leader is determined to succeed, to do those things that are needed and required, especially in areas where job descriptions are outrightly outlined, there are always people who would embark on fruitless voyage in attempt to scuttle efforts of leaders.

Of course, very established that a leader who understands his job descriptions and has the requisite and strong will-power to effect positive changes can never be dimmed. Such persons achieves effortlessly, to excell and right the wrongs, even in the mixture of pull-down machinations.

This is the situation at TETFund. The Executive Secretary of the agency, Sunday Echono, since his assumption of office, has been putting in place veritable measures to reposition it. He has gone into partnership with both local and foreign educational authorities and stakeholders to improve the general standard of tertiary education in the country. This is just as contracts are awarded and executed legitimately and without imbalance.

It is worthy of note that in our clime, there is difficult for people to appreciate good deeds but very easy to castigate, even when one is doing good things beyond expectations. This act can however, be said to be a negative way of life which, if allowed to fest, can jeopardize concerted effort and bring underdevelopment to all and sundry. 

Recently, there were some frivolous allegations from some media sections that  the Management of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) awarded “questionable contracts amounting to the tune of N7.6 billion” thereby usurping the powers of Mr. President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC); and that the Fund acted outside its mandate in carrying out capacity building programmes in its Beneficiary Institutions.

 Abdulmumin Oniyangi, Acting Director, Public Affairs for Executive Secretary in a swift reaction over the purported media publications had stated in statement that the publication was “totally spurious and misleading” and therefore found it necessary to provide background information and clarifications for the benefit of various stakeholders and the general public.

According to Oniyangi, the two Projects under reference were not Contracts but ICT Projects being implemented under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) arrangement with the following two global academies:Anthology USA; owners of Blackboard Inc. which is a leading global educational technology academy providing Blackboard Ultra Learning Management System. 

He revealed that also Edunet Academy, equally a global learning academy providing certification tracks in communication, entrepreneurship and  employability skills development.

The explanation was that organisations are academies and owners of the intellectual property rights for their different products which does not make them open for competitive Biddings in public procurement. 

“As part of measures to leverage on ICT in the transformation of the Nigerian tertiary educational sub-sector, three specialized committees were constituted by the Fund as follows: ICT Infrastructure Project Committee headed by Late. Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo Gowon (former Chairman, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities)TETFund Advisory Committee on Digital Literacy, Productivity and Emerging Skills headed by Prof. Olagbemiro Jegede (VC Emeritus National Open University of Nigeria)Digitization Project Steering /Coordinating Committee headed by Prof. Yakubu Ochefu (Secretary-General, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities). Based on the above, an ICT roadmap was developed and is being implemented by the Fund in conjunction with Beneficiary Institutions since 2016.

“Relying on the recommendations of the committees which were presented and accepted by all the heads of Beneficiary Institutions at the Fund’s Annual Stakeholders forum, it was agreed that, the sum of N100m be allocated for ICT support intervention for every University, N50m for every Polytechnic and N50m for every College of Education. Of this amount, 50% was to be utilised for Infrastructure and procurement based on the peculiar needs of the institutions, while the balance of 50% was earmarked for the converged services inclusive of educational resource subscriptions, software licenses and specialised capacity development programmes for both academic/non-academic staff as well as students,” it stated.

Also, an educational organisation, Fides Et Ratio Academy, was alleged that a purported N2.9 billion contract awarded to it by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

But fielding questions from newsmen in Abuja recently, during a media parley on the firm’s plan to roll out skill training programmes in the country, Chief Executive Officer of the Academy, Paul Chukwuma, said the organisation never had a contract with TETFund. 

According to Chukwuma, who owns a university in East Africa, “Fides Et Ratio Academy only entered into an agreement with TETFund on a skill training programme for directors and deputy directors of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as students in higher education institutions in the country.”

Going by the allegations and explanations from the concerned Fund, one is quick to establish that there are deliberate plans to tarnish the image of the Fund and cast the name of the Executive Secretary, Sunday Echono to disrepute.

It is however, imperative that allowing mischief to thrive in the face of viable educational attainment at the Fund is disservice. Echono is doing well and must be encouraged to do more. 

The successfulness at TETFund should not be basically about the ES, Echono but on the entire educational development of the country. This is a fact and we must ensure that mischief makers are shown the way out of the system so as not to continue in their dastardly ways of circulating baseless and unfounded allegations to cause doubts in the minds of education stakeholders.

It is quite obvious that a lot has been achieved by the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sunday Echono. There is a lot more ongoing and what is required is unflinching support rather than distractions.

We understood that since the coming to office by Echono, his developmental strides has already surpassed that of his predecessors. Of course, he is seamlessly building on the laid foundation and ready to build to the latter.

It is observed that Echono had frozen, cancelled or suspended programmes and consultancies adjudged wasteful or economically disadvantageous to the Fund.

That is why some of those affected, are licking their wounds while a few who initially threatened legal actions have settled for renegotiation after realizing their weak positions.

Highlighting some of the achievements, Oniyangi stated that “the unwieldy 99-man Technical Advisory Group (TAG) has been put on notice to right-size for prudence and greater operational efficiency.”

It means that the Executive Secretary is indeed stepping on some long toes and the expected response is to question his qualification for the job which none of his five (5) predecessors (3 academics and 2 technocrats) was better prepared for.

Perhaps, more problematic are the Procurement and Project Management reforms introduced to eliminate corruption, reduce delivery time of projects, prevent cost escalation and improve general efficiency in the discharge of the Fund’s mandate.

 Under the new dispensation, all projects to be executed by the Fund are planned, packaged and selected by the beneficiary institutions for review and concurrence of the Fund. No more TETFund or vendor-promoted projects, as the needs of the institutions shall prevail, Oniyangi stated.

Be that as it is, it is certain that whenever corruption is fought, it fights back. But the disruptor must continually hold to transformation and achieve the set targets.

As it stands, it is obvious that some hinderers of development are bent on tarnishing the image of the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sunday Echono due to his refusal to aid corruption that was eaten deep into the fabrics. The fight to kill corruption must be sustained, no matter the fireworks.

It is together a nation is built and by tearing apart; so together, TETFund would be taken to higher heights. No amount of parochial or ill-conceived amount of hate can deter a man who wants to write his name in gold. 

What a lot of people desire to be unachievable must be achieved and with every sterling. At the moment, it is left for those who dwell on mischief to continue embarking on fruitless journey of no harvest. For TETFund, the Executive Secretary, Sunday Echono is sailing and must be supported to ensuring a solid educational transformation, even if corruption is fighting back.

Tersoo, a critic and public affairs analyst can be reached via: adaghertersoo@gmail.com

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